Hiding in Plain Sight – Queer people in NornIrl are used to (locally) powerful elements, namely the now-largest political party, the DUP (Democratic Unionist Party) and the Free Presbyterian Church, both constructed by the late Dr. Ian Paisley, being resolutely opposed to, in essence, any rights for LGBTs. The situation in other places, particularly other parts of the ‘Anglosphere’ can can appear wreathed in a pinko-lavender glow. We are cosily slotting into British, especially London society, it seems.
How odd, then, was it to read and hear of the puzzlement on the foot of the BBC Proms recent ‘outreach’ to amateur orchestras. (Most such bands are not ‘amateur’ in the strict sense of the word, being made up partly of professional musicians who teach or are ‘session’ musicians in recording studios,or are simply retired or bringing up families).
The puzzlement was caused by the LGSO (London Gay Symphony Orchestra), even liberal[ish] blatts were, on the face if things, taken aback. The blatts seemed not to have been aware of the LGSO’s existence, including the journos who should HAVE KNOWN – LIKE THE ONES WHO DIDN’T TURN OUT WHEN IT was working with the USA choirs. Even the local blatts, and the (two) in Islington are professional and consceintiously ‘local’ – and have Lefty histories, they were started by Communist Party people who left after Prague in 1968. A substantial number of them didn’t want to simply dissolve into their surroundings. That was by an organisation founded on May 1996, that has 150+ members, and gives a minimum of four concerts per annum, usually given in the C of E church Saint Sepulcre, Holborn Viaduct- the up-coming autumn one is billed for St. S’s.usually in a church on the border of Islington and the City of London. It first rehearsed and gave concerts in the Drill Hall a Gay-oriented arts centre, since closed down due to ‘austerity’.
With a bit o’luck the LGSO (there’s a similar band in Birmingham) will get ‘picked on’ by the Beeb and show their stuff. They really ought to make records, some major bands in London, and similar large cities sell recordings of the concerts audiences have just sat through. The LGSO filled the Royal Festival Hallsome years ago accompanying LGBT choirs from Europe and the USA. Thus it isn’t unused to critical audiences – though the critics in the ‘straight’ press ignored the event, even though it was given on behalf of two charities.